Determined to give back to the society in ameliorating the problems facing many African countries, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has launched another international charity organisation in London known as Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation on Friday 8th February,2013.
President Obasanjo who dressed in a white Agbada with a black shoe stated his mission and objectives for the establishment of the foundation during the world press conference organised by the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation at Grosvenor Hotel London.He said his personal conviction and personal experiences in life strongly motivated him to establish the foundation as a way of giving back to the society.
Obasanjo affirmed that his foundation shall focus on five major areas namely girl- child education, youth unemployment, preventing non- communicable diseases, food and human security.
“If you educate a girl child,you’re educating a whole family and indeed a nation.Girl-child education discrimination due to cultural, religious and poverty reasons are not good for nation-building,Women produce more than 50 per cent of food consumed but they are prevented from inheriting lands in some cultures.They are also denied access to bank credits and loans.This marginalisation and discrimination must stop.” Obasanjo stated.
On health aspect.”Health is a huge area of life as we all know health is wealth and health is also part of our living.From my research,we have over 38 million blind people in the world but sadly 90 per cent of them can still get their sight back if all resources are available.This is because they only need to do simple things like eating good diet, exercising regularly and regular medical checks.Some people would just say high blood pressure,diabetes,hyper tension and others are diseases affecting the rich people only but poor people are also dying from these preventable diseases.”
The former Nigeria President who addressed the conference in conjunction with the Chairperson of the Foundation, Ms. Anne Welsh and Mr. Richard Attias who is a consultant with Romain Grandjean and also part of the Bill Clinton Initiative in America declared that government of various countries in Africa are doing their possible best to reduce the afore mentioned issues, but further insisted that more still need to be done.
“I am not saying that government or private sectors,other foundations and charity organisations are not doing enough. In spite of all what they are doing, there is still a big gap that must be filled. Human security is not the responsibility of one organisation or government alone,it is for everybody to be security-conscious.” Obasanjo said.
On his past foundations,Obasanjo said that he established African Leadership Forum in his efforts to train many young Africans in the areas of good governance,entrepreneurship,management,community development and empowerment and he also established Olusegun Obasanjo library in Abeokuta to inspire new generation of Nigerians that would embrace education and preservation of our culute.
The Foundation launched on Friday,8th February,2013 attracted more than 2,000 guests across the globe.Head of States from different countries such as Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan; Dr.Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, President Thomas Yayi Boyi of Benin Republic, among other dignitaries from Nigeria, including Alhaji Aliko Dangote,Mr Femi Otedola,Chief Jim Ovia,former Cross River state governor,Donald Duke,former Oyo state governor,Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala,first lady,Mrs Patience Jonathan,Chief Sonny Odogwu,Bayelsa State Governor,Mr.Dickson Seriake,Edo state governor,Comrade Adams Oshiomole,Nigeria High Commissioner to the UK,Dr.Dalharu Tafida,deputy High Commissioner to the UK,Ambassador Oluwatoyin Lawal,Dr.Reuben Abati,Mr.Oronto Douglas,Mr.Peter Mandelson MP,Mrs.Oby Ezekwesili,former CBN boss,Charles Soludo,Mr.Bimbo Afolayan,president CANUK,Mr.Femi Okutubo,publisher/CEO Trumpet MediaGroup UK,Mr.Mike Abiola,Publisher/CEO,African Voice magazine UK,Mr.Ken Wiwa Jnr,Mr.Richard Taylor of Damilola Foundation London,Otunba Fashawe,top diplomats from various countries and many more.
The Foundation, which will spread its tentacles across various countries in Africa and other continents, is expected to kick-start its programmes in Malawi or Mali very soon.
Ms.Anne Welsh who is the Chairperson of the foundation expressed gratitude for being appointed to head the new charity organisation and promised to do her best to see to the success of the whole project.
“I was born in Kaduna northern Nigeria as a sickle-cell anaemia child.I have experienced many health issues in the past.We are ready to work with like minds with progressive ideas to move Olusegun Obasanjo foundation forward.We need your support to excel with all our set-out objectives.” Anne Welsh stated.
At the end of the world press conference,former President Olusegun Obasanjo warmly greeted all the journalists,exchanged banters and later snapped photos with everybody present at the event.The roundtable conference and dinner ceremony later took place afterwards.
Who Did What At The Event…
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo grew up from humble family background in Ogun state and had experienced many hardships in life, survived bullets during Nigeria-Biafra civil war and detained by the Abacha military regime on trumped-up charges of coup plotting. The old man then decided to give back to the society as he established an African-centred foundation in his name in London. Here are some of the news behind the news at the star-studded global event which took place on Friday 8th February 2013.
Evergreen and immortal Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Okikiolakan Obasanjo appeared like a ‘birthday boy’ to many people at the colourful ceremony in London. The old man fondly called ‘Baba’ by his well-wishers, supporters and friends dressed in a white agbada with a pair of black shoes plus a brown cap. He addressed the world press at exactly 430pm in conjunction with Ms.Anne Welsh, Chairperson of the Foundation and Mr.Richard Attias, the Foundation’s consultant. When Baba said he is proudly a village African man, one of the London-based Nigerian journalists replied him that he is a Nigerian man and not a village man. Suddenly Baba snapped:” If you’re not from any village in Nigeria, I am afraid that is your misfortune. I am a village man. We all have roots in respective villages as Africans.”
Baba then looked sideways to challenge Ms.Anne Welsh to mention her father’s village and the young Chairperson just avoided Baba’s technical question by saying; “I was born in Kaduna, northern Nigeria but my parents are from the South East Nigeria.
Baba was just strolling round the whole area (Grosvenor House Hotel, London),smiling, shaking hands and snapping photographs with several people. Some people were already waiting for him at the reception, he greeted them, whispered some words to others while just waved hands at others or directing them to drop their contact details with one ‘light-skinned’ man(personal assistant?) following Baba up and down the hotel area.
Former Oyo State Governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala Was There
This ‘big man’ entered the main hall quietly in company of the former president Olusegun Obasanjo.He was seen having a deep conversation with Baba but the old man was just shaking his head. The Ogbomoso-born politician then sat down in a seat assigned to both past and present governors of Nigeria. He did not grant any press interview. He tactically avoided the pen-pushers. When approached by some people at the event. He greeted them so well and even hugged some of them to show love and appreciation of recognising him.
Ken Wiwa Jnr Too
This young man is the son of the hanged Nigerian writer, celebrated columnist and environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. He sat down like a gentleman next to Mr Oronto Douglas. They were chatting friendly on some issues. When asked for a photo opportunity or press interviews. He turned down the offer and pretended to be too tired or stressed up to move to talk. Ken Wiwa Jnr once lived in Canada for many years but he is now back in Nigeria to propagate his father’s legacy and we also learnt he is now a ‘consultant’ to President Jonathan’s government.
Comrade Adams Oshiomole, Always His Simple Self!
This former vibrant labour leader was just as simple as his popular name. He dressed so simple that one could easily mistake him for an ordinary ‘powerless’ human being but he is an elected governor in Edo state. He appeared to be hiding himself in a corner next to Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala. When greeted, he responded so well as if known for years. Comrade Adams Oshiomole is one of the ‘performing’ governors in Nigeria. He is well respected in his state of origin based on his visible achievements and projects.
Lord Peter Mandelson mentoring Chuka Umunna MP at Obasanjo’s event?
Lord Peter Mandelson and Labour Streatham MP British-born Nigerian citizen Chuka Umunna appeared glued together during the dinner and evening roundtable conference. Lord Mandelson one of the controversial politicians during the Blair-Brown era was seen several times discussing passionate issues and political strategies with the young Labour MP Chuka who listened with rapt attention the way students would listen to their headteacher.
Who knows Chuka might be the next occupant of number 10 Downing Street. What is good for any Obama in Washington DC must also be good for Chuka in Westminster London. During the roundtable conference, Lord Mandelson picked on Obasanjo by asking several controversial questions concerning transparency and sincerity of purpose to run his new charity organisation with qualified, well-trained and honest personalities. Baba as usual defended himself. At the end of the discussion, Lord Mandelson quipped: “We both have something in common as a leader: controversial life style!”
Who Doesn’t Know Aliko?
The richest African man(Alhaji Aliko Dangote was nearly prevented from gaining entrance into the main hall by the non-Nigerian officials in-charge of protocols and hospitality. There was a prepared list of invited guests but the richest African man alive today can’t be accused of ‘gate-crashing’ such a global event. He lined up for over one hour like other guests.
As the drama was dragging, former President Obasanjo suddenly appeared from the moon to save ‘Boy Alinko’ from any further harassment. ‘Baba hugged him and said: “Aliko, so happy to see you to honour my foundation. Thanks for coming.” Alhaji Dangote bowed down to greet Baba while the non-Nigerians (mostly Asians!)in charge of protocols and security just opened their mouth as Baba himself cleared ways for his Very Important Personality. To say ‘Money Man’ Dangote is very simple and blessed with high sense of humility is an understatement. Alhaji Dangote arrived alone, no bodyguard and no personal assistant.
From Bayelsa With Love
This tall and strongly-built man also came to honour the political godfather of the man(President Goodluck Jonathan) who made it possible for him to be elected as governor of Bayelsa state despite political intrigues, blackmails and controversies. He balanced well at one corner like other governors to enjoy his food and drinks. Don’t disturb His Excellency please!
Former Education Minister Mrs.Obi Ezekwesili, Dynamic As Ever
This brilliant and accomplished global woman recently stirred hornets’ nest when she challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to a public debate to explain to fellow Nigerians on some missing ‘funds’. It was a ‘free-for-all’ fight both online and offline. She attended the event to honour former President Olusegun Obasanjo. She is a very diplomatic woman who smartly avoided any name-calling or re-opening of old wounds at her presentation during the evening roundtable conference. She suggested practical ways to move the country forward and general advise for charity organisations from every corner of the globe. Funny enough, her seat was strategically located just few steps to where President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Mrs. Patience Jonathan sat.
Femi Otedola Was In High Spirits
This business mogul arrived with his personal assistant, a friendly young man called Mr. Olarinre. Otedola lined up like everybody with his invitation letter on his right hand. He appeared to be in good mood, chatting with somebody on phone. Some of the guests that knew him greeted him and he responded very well. As he was about to cross the last ‘point of entry’, he looked back and saw his good friend, Alhaji Aliko Dangote still negotiating his way. He waited for him a bit after his own clearance then the drama(explained above)happened but at the end of the day, the celebrant himself(Chief Olusegun Obasanjo)cleared the whole mess. Hon.Farouk Lawan from Kano state won’t forget in hurry the political trap set for him by this controversial business tycoon during the fuel subsidy removal brouhaha.
This wonderful pen-technocrat, prose stylist and former Chairman editorial board of Guardian newspapers of Nigeria is a friendly and very humble fellow. He is the current Special adviser on Media and Publicity to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.It appeared Oga Abati was not happy with the wicked winter of England. He is a man with deep love for his Africa continent. After the event, he was so much in hurry since he must always be with the Mr. President at every public occasion. He could not grant any press interview, maybe press release shall follow later about his boss’s visit to the UK.
Otunba Oyewole Fashawe: Surprise Of The Programme
This popular socialite and successful businessman surprised Baba by his attendance. When Baba saw him, he was shocked and Otunba never stayed far from the former President through out the whole event. They became inseparable during the evening programme.
Otunba Fashawe sat at the corner during the world press conference and as soon as the conference ended, he quickly moved closer to Baba.
And President Thomas Yayi Boyi of Benin Republic Spoke In Yoruba!
This young man spoke briefly in Yoruba language and momentarily switched to English language but later asked for permission to speak in French, his country’s official language. He jokingly informed his interpreter to translate exactly what he would say since the man is well-paid for such an assignment. His sense of humour was unrivalled at the event. He later saluted the courage of former President Obasanjo as a pan-Africanist for establishing a foundation to cater for the disadvantaged people in Africa and developing countries.
President Ellen John Sirleaf of Liberia’s Dream
This beautiful old lady president also supported Olusegun Obasanjo foundation and totally agreed with the concept of girl-child education which is one of the cardinal points of the foundation. She advocated that with good education, anybody could easily achieve his or her dreams in life. She hopes that Africa shall elect more educated and experienced female presidents in the coming years.
President Goodluck Jonathan, Moving Nigeria Forward…
The ‘lucky man’ arrived at the scene with his entourage. He went straight to pay homage to his godfather, former president Olusegun Obasanjo. When asked to talk about education and other issues in Nigeria and Africa. He used himself as a typical example that if not for his education he cannot be president of the most populous African country in the world. He mentioned some of his achievements in power during the roundtable conference but also stated that more areas still need to be touched in order to reduce the daily hardship of Nigerians.
– Dare Lasisi, London